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Posts tagged "war crimes"


Libya: Stop Revenge Crimes Against Displaced Persons

Satellite Imagery Analysis Shows Systematic Destruction of Tawergha

The Libyan government should take urgent steps to stop serious and ongoing human rights violations against inhabitants of the town of Tawergha, who are widely viewed as having supported Muammar Gaddafi. The forced displacement of roughly 40,000 people, arbitrary detentions, torture, and killings are widespread, systematic, and sufficiently organized to be crimes against humanity and should be condemned by the United Nations Security Council.

LATTAKIA, Syria and BEIRUT, Lebanon | As Syria descends into civil war, Abu Jaafar said he is ready to kill women and children to defend his friends, family and president.

"Sunni women are giving birth to babies who will fight us in years to come, so we have the right to fight anyone who can hurt us in the future," said the Alawite militiaman, a member of the ancient offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the powerbase of his regime belong.



On Kony 2012: I honestly wanted to stay as far away as possible from KONY 2012, the latest fauxtivist fad sweeping the web (remember “change your Facebook profile pic to stop child abuse”?), but you clearly won’t stop sending me that damn video until I say something about it, so here goes:

Stop sending me that video.

The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards.

Additionally, IC has a low two-star rating in accountability from Charity Navigator because they won’t let their financials be independently audited. That’s not a good thing. In fact, it’s a very bad thing, and should make you immediately pause and reflect on where the money you’re sending them is going.

By IC’s own admission, only 31% of all the funds they receive go toward actually helping anyone [pdf]. The rest go to line the pockets of the three people in charge of the organization, to pay for their travel expenses (over $1 million in the last year alone) and to fund their filmmaking business (also over a million) — which is quite an effective way to make more money, as clearly illustrated by the fact that so many can’t seem to stop forwarding their well-engineered emotional blackmail to everyone they’ve ever known.

And as far as what they do with that money:

The group is in favour of direct military intervention, and their money supports the Ugandan government’s army and various other military forces. Here’s a photo of the founders of Invisible Children posing with weapons and personnel of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army are riddled with accusations of rape and looting, but Invisible Children defends them, arguing that the Ugandan army is “better equipped than that of any of the other affected countries”, although Kony is no longer active in Uganda and hasn’t been since 2006 by their own admission. These books each refer to the rape and sexual assault that are perennial issues with the UPDF, the military group Invisible Children is defending.

Let’s not get our lines crossed: The Lord’s Resistance Army is bad news. And Joseph Kony is a very bad man, and needs to be stopped. But propping up Uganda’s decades-old dictatorship and its military arm, which has been accused by the UN of committing unspeakable atrocities and itself facilitated the recruitment of child soldiers, is not the way to go about it.

The United States is already plenty involved in helping rout Kony and his band of psycho sycophants. Kony is on the run, having been pushed out of Uganda, and it’s likely he will soon be caught, if he isn’t already dead. But killing Kony won’t fix anything, just as killing Osama bin Laden didn’t end terrorism. The LRA might collapse, but, as Foreign Affairs points out, it is “a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence.”

Myopically placing the blame for all of central Africa’s woes on Kony — even as a starting point — will only imperil many more people than are already in danger.

Sending money to a nonprofit that wants to muck things up by dousing the flames with fuel is not helping. Want to help? Really want to help? Send your money to nonprofits that are putting more than 31% toward rebuilding the region’s medical and educational infrastructure, so that former child soldiers have something worth coming home to.

Here are just a few of those charities. They all have a sparkling four-star rating from Charity Navigator, and, more importantly, no interest in airdropping American troops armed to the teeth into the middle of a multi-nation tribal war to help one madman catch another.

The bottom line is, research your causes thoroughly. Don’t just forward a random video to a stranger because a mass murderer makes a five-year-old “sad.” Learn a little bit about the complexities of the region’s ongoing strife before advocating for direct military intervention.

There is no black and white in the world. And going about solving important problems like there is just serves to make all those equally troubling shades of gray invisible.


(via wilwheaton)

It’s about time that we started taking actual UGANDAN views on this movement into account.

There are several good articles on this, including this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is a very bad man named Joseph Kony, who has spent the better part of 3 decades implementing massive human rights violations including, but not limited to, the recruitment of child soldiers. He is one of the most wanted criminals on the roster of the International Criminal Courts. In spite of this, he has yet to be caught and held by authorities of any sort.

But fear not, dear netizens. We, the USA, know EXACTLY how to fix this problem:  With some hot suburban white kid action! We, the 15-30 year old demographic, can fix all such ills by using the internet to express some righteous anger. In this way, we can make it SEEM like we make a difference under the guise of awareness, all without having to do any real work outside of plastering a few posters or wearing a bracelet. Imagine that – just clicking a few links while eating your favorite brand of junk food, and you too can feel better about yourself, all the while promoting that wholesome image of the West and its selfless, genteel residents coming to save yet another helpless African nation!

Sarcastic rants aside; I must admit that my most immediate thoughts regarding the recent spike in popularity for the KONY 2012 movement went something along the lines of, “You HAVE to be shitting me.” And I, like many people peeved by this movement’s surge in publicity, have my reasons.

One of my primary complaints? This movement effectively ignores the fact that once this monster is arrested, the problems of Uganda will be far from over. There WILL be a power vacuum because – gasp – there is a HUGE block of recent history that allowed this man to wield power in the first place. And no, my friends, you can’t find it in a 25 minute YouTube clip. Simply put, arresting the current ringleader doesn’t do anything to curb the likelihood of another equally ambitious individual taking the reins. Mind you, in no way am I saying this man should not be arrested – he is a war criminal of over 25 years and far overdue for quality time in a jail cell. However, simply convincing ourselves that his arrest will solve every problem this region has is both ludicrous and self-serving. And from a historical perspective, it’s what’s allowed us to comfortably distance ourselves from any fallout associated with our involvement in regions in which we intervene (Cue references to that ugly business with the Shah of Iran, popular support for the Mujahedeen in the 1980s, SE Asia post-Vietnam, etc.). Thus, in framing this dialogue in the language of one strict, short-term goal, we effectively remove ourselves from any responsibility for follow-through after the fact and further the image of the West as that of a colonial power to be distrusted. Regardless of if it’s done via federal government or an NGO – it sends the same message to the people left to navigate the mess.

Speaking of those millions of souls – One can only imagine how they feel about the fact that campaigns like these completely ignore the tireless work done by the very people living here to stop the atrocities that surround them – people like Betty Bigombe, who have been going about this process for decades, risking their lives on a daily basis. And at the end of the day, the work of people like these – people who live there, in the proverbial trenches – is the work that does the most good, yet gets the least attention. Make no mistake – the people of Invisible Children have done a good job in raising awareness of this issue in our neck of the woods, and I genuinely believe they have only the best of intentions. But at the end of the day, a few white guys backpacking through Uganda with a video camera does nothing for sustainable efforts for change. Instead of educating the public on why these events are happening in this location, or how to help enable successful grassroots efforts to do more, this approach ultimately boils down a hugely complex conflict (one so closely related to ‘Africa’s World War’, at that) to dangerously simple “truths” so that an impatient and uninformed audience will absorb the message presented more readily. And with all of this attention on our shiny new fad, the media saturation takes away the spotlight and associated resources from those best equipped to educate and affect change. Namely, because they are taking into consideration the very things that those living  thousands of miles away in the comfort of hipster-friendly suburbia  do not, and unlike said would-be good Samaritans, they have the trust of the people around them.

And finally, that point which I so smartass-ily brought up in the beginning of this glorious rant:  We really have to stop presenting the nations of the Global South in such a condescending light. I can guarantee you that not one of them really needs a sympathetic White Savior to sweep in and rescue them. If we here really want to help, perhaps a little time to educate ourselves on what has allowed this conflict to fester would be useful - or, if we’re feeling REALLY ambitious, to do something in terms of economic or societal sanctions.  For starters, perhaps we could consider how our very economic decisions and consumer trends directly affect the politics and associated conflicts of Central Africa (Yes, darling children, this includes Uganda).

I could go on about various other issues regarding Invisible Children, Inc. as an organization, its approaches, and other issues, but I’ll spare you another page of reading. For a few of them, I leave you uno, dos, tres, and my favorite, cuatro.

/rant over.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


For those asking what you can do to help, please link to wherever you see KONY 2012 posts. And tweet a link to this page to famous people on Twitter who are talking about KONY 2012!

I do not doubt for a second that those involved in KONY 2012 have great intentions, nor…

If you really care about this conflict, I would suggest reading this before committing to KONY 2012.